ON THE THRESHOLD OF DISCOVERY
It has been a busy, but exciting, year in our laboratory. Dr. Feldman and her team of scientists are conducting cutting-edge research on a variety of neurological diseases.
They are applying innovative techniques, on the frontiers of medical science, to increase our understanding of diseases and to explore new therapies.
They are on the cusp of discovery and cures.
Here are just a few of their most promising areas of research, including citations to scientific articles. If you are interested in obtaining any of these papers, please feel free to e-mail your request to Glen Walker.
Stem cells can give rise to many different cells types and are the building blocks of our body. The potential of stem cells to help our body resist or recover from disease as well as injury is a new exciting area of research.
A hallmark feature of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is the loss of nerve cells that control the ability of a people to speak, breathe and move their arms and legs. Patients with ALS retain their ability to think and understand; they are fully aware each day as they lose one more body function.
Stem cell technology offers a unique opportunity to support nerve cells and maintain the health of nerve cells in patients with ALS. With the passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan, which allows us for the first time to create our own stem cell lines, our plan is to increase dramatically our research efforts in this area.
Our preliminary research show that animals with ALS retain their ability to move and live much longer after they receive stem cell therapy.
- We now need to understand why:
- What are the stem cells doing in the nervous system?
- Are they making new nerve cells?
- What do these nerve cell produce?
- Can they function?
- Can they form long connections to sick muscles?
- What is the genetic make-up of these cells?
- Would this idea work in other neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease?
These are the questions that the scientists are currently tackling.
Acta Biomaterials, 4, 863-875, 2008.
Drug Discover Today, 13, 67-72, 2008
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 23, 1-11, 2008.
The idea behind gene therapy is straightforward: Take a common virus, replace the infectious part of the virus with good genes—and the result, a virus that makes a beneficial protein.
We are using gene therapy to deliver a family of proteins known as growth factors to animals with ALS. Growth factors allow nerve cells to remain healthy even in a hostile environment. Our goal is to discover which of the common viruses are best to use for gene therapy and which growth factor provides the best defense against ALS.
We have panels of viruses and growth factors and an animal model of ALS. The answers our research will bring to this area can lead to new therapies in ALS, and like our stem cell research, can be then applied to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease.
The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 122, 500-555, 2008.
Diabetes is an epidemic in this country. Currently there are over 20 million Americans with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
The most common complication of diabetes is nerve damage in the feet, which is initially characterized by intense pain, followed over time with numbness, loss of sensation, ulcers and – in 15% of patients – amputations.
We are attacking this huge health problem in many ways. Our scientists are discovering how high blood sugar injures nerves, why this causes pain, and how over time high blood sugar destroys the nerves.
By using both animals with diabetes and simulating in a Petri dish the insults that nerve cells undergo with diabetes, we have discovered the key pathways of glucose-induced injury and are currently fast-tracking new, groundbreaking therapies.
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 10, 387-393, 2008.
Current Drug Targets, 9, 3-13, 2008.
Current Drug Targets, 9, 94-100, 2008
Neurobiology of Disease, 30, 420-429, 2008
Diabetes, 57, 1693-1701, 2008.
Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, 9, 301-314, 2008.
Pharmacology Therapeutics, 120, 1-34, 2008
Endocrinology, 149, 4928-4937, 2008.
Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System, 13, 1-6, 2008
There are over 40 childhood muscle diseases, known as myopathies, that present at birth with muscle weakness and delayed ability to speak, sit and walk. Many times children are confined to a wheelchair their entire life.
Currently there are no cures or even drugs that slow the pace of muscle weakness in these children. Our scientists are tackling this problem by understanding the function of the muscle genes and proteins present in myopathies and by developing novel animal models of childhood muscle disease.
Circulation Research, 102, 423-431, 2008.
BMC Cell Biology, 9, 36, 2008.
Traffic, 9, 1035-1043, 2008